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Alonso to Ferrari could herald golden age

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Andrew Benson | 15:20 UK time, Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Fernando Alonso's move to Ferrari, which was finally announced on Wednesday, is the most exciting shift in the Formula 1 fabric for years.

Assuming F1's traditional giants can both get back to the front, with Alonso at Ferrari going up against Lewis Hamilton at McLaren it sets the best two drivers in the world against each other in the two most famous teams.

Think of James Hunt against Niki Lauda, Alain Prost versus Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher taking on Mika Hakkinen. This is the historical lineage in which Alonso and Hamilton are taking their places, and they have all the qualities required to live up to those expectations.

Schumacher v Hakkinen is perhaps the closest comparison.

Alonso's year as Hamilton's team-mate at McLaren in 2007 may have been tempestuous in the extreme, but there is not the personal animosity between the two that there was for a long time between Senna and Prost.

Nor, though, are they exactly the partners in playboy excess that were Hunt and Lauda. Instead, their relationship is based on a deep respect for each other's abilities and a similarly powerful will to win.

alonsohamfistgetty595.jpgAlonso and Hamilton have deep respect for each other's abilities

When they were racing, many people believed that, on a single lap, Hakkinen was actually slightly faster than Schumacher. Equally, few had any doubts that, overall, Schumacher was the more complete driver.

It is not stretching the point to see Alonso in the Schumacher role and Hamilton as Hakkinen - and that's not just because of the cars they will be driving in 2010.

Alonso and Hamilton staged a fascinating battle in 2007. Sometimes Hamilton had the edge on Alonso, sometimes it was the other way around. And they finished the season tied on points, with Hamilton edging second place in the championship behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on results count-back.

On the evidence of that one season, it is incredibly difficult to judge who is the better driver.

There was rarely more than a hair's breadth between them on pace. But, on balance, in the races where it was possible to make a direct comparison, Hamilton was faster than Alonso slightly more often than it was the other way around.

For a guy in his first season going toe-to-toe with a double world champion, that is incredibly impressive. But weighing against that, Alonso was never comfortable at McLaren.

By mid-season, the relationship between driver and team was already breaking down and after the watershed of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend - when Hamilton and Alonso tried to double-cross each other in qualifying, after which Alonso had two massive rows with then-team boss Ron Dennis and threatened to expose the team to the FIA in the now-notorious 'spy scandal' - it was clear he was on his way out.

Even so, Alonso beat Hamilton fair and square at the next two races and a significant discrepancy in speed between the two men only emerged at the final two races, when it was clear there was a real danger of Alonso beating Hamilton to the title. And Alonso was not the only person to be suspicious about that.

Many people in F1 believe Alonso, 28, is the most complete driver in the sport - and the evidence of his career so far makes it hard to dispute that. Equally, though, it is clear that Hamilton, 24, has the potential to usurp him, just as he replaced Alonso as the youngest champion in F1 history.

Certainly, the evidence of this season is that the Englishman is beginning to show signs of the wider awareness and racing intelligence that Alonso has displayed for so long.

Now, that battle is going to be staged with the drivers in different cars and teams, with the restrictions that were imposed on them by the requirements of racing for the same organisation removed. It should be a case of sit back and watch the sparks fly.

At the same time, there are a series of intriguing sub-plots to savour.

It is looking increasingly likely that Raikkonen, who has been elbowed out of Ferrari to make way for Alonso, will move back to McLaren as team-mate to Hamilton.

If that happens, it is in itself a fascinating prospect for, on his day, Raikkonen is a match for anybody. It would be a surprise if the Finn beat Hamilton over a season, but there may well be times when the Englishman cannot live with him. And how Hamilton handles that will be a major test for him.

The intra-team fight at Ferrari will also be interesting. When Raikkonen went there in 2007, he was expected to easily beat Felipe Massa, but it didn't quite work out that way. So people will be less willing to make the same assumption about Alonso.

Nevertheless, while Raikkonen regards his job as being to turn up and drive, spending as little time doing anything else as he can get away with, Alonso has more strings to his bow and I, and many others I suspect, expect him to prove too much for the Brazilian.

Finally, there is Robert Kubica's move to Renault to replace Alonso. The Pole is highly regarded in F1, and Ferrari, for one, are known to have their eye on him for the future.

Kubica was a tough rival of Hamilton in karting, and Alonso once described him as the best driver on the grid. So if Renault can regain the form that won them two world titles in 2005-6, Kubica's presence at the front would add another dimension.

There's also the prospect of watching the progress of world champion-elect Jenson Button - arguably the leader of the second string of drivers behind Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen - and rising star Sebastian Vettel in a major fight with F1's heavy hitters, if their Brawn and Red Bull teams can maintain the form that has made them front-runners this season.

All in all, the future of F1 looks rosy indeed. On the track, at least.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Lets just wait and see. Massa on-form will, in my opinion, out drive Alonso. Everyone talks about how good Alonso is. Well next season we will see for sure.

  • Comment number 2.

    Why don't we just hand Jenson the drivers championship today and start the new season tomorrow. Can't wait.

  • Comment number 3.

    Seems to me that McLaren come out smiling and on top in this switcharoo !

  • Comment number 4.

    I could smell trouble brewing at Ferrari next season, Alonso seem to have issues with team mates unless he gets his way. I hope Massa can stand up to him like Lewis, NPJ lacked any sort of backbone and got run over.

  • Comment number 5.

    Should make for an excellent 2010 season, can't wait. Kimi v Hamilton (When this is confirmed) FA v Massa and off course the Brawn team of Jenson & Rosberg. Lets not forget the Red Bull team who will want to take the next step after a successfull 2009 season.

    Bring it on!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Personally I would say that Kimi is the fastest driver on the grid, forget Hamilton vs Alonso next season, I will be looking forward to Kimi vs lewis in hopefully the same car

  • Comment number 7.

    Alonso (my fav driver) versus Hamilton (the driver i unrequitedly support because of patriotism) will be fantastic. I simply cannot wait!

  • Comment number 8.

    1. At 3:47pm on 30 Sep 2009, f12009 wrote:
    Lets just wait and see. Massa on-form will, in my opinion, out drive Alonso. Everyone talks about how good Alonso is. Well next season we will see for sure.

    We have already seen it, he is a double world champion!!!!
    Schumacher crushed Massa, yet Alonso went toe-to-toe with Schumacher and won. I am not saying Alonso is better than Schumacher, but he is certainly better than Massa.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think Ferrari has made the biggest mistake by taking Alonso. He is not as good as everybody talks, and I hope Massa will show how bad is Alonso

  • Comment number 10.

    #8 - Schumacher as always been No1 in any team he has been in so you can never say he crushed someone as his team mates always had to play second fiddle to him. With the support Ferrari have shown Massa this year I think that both him and Alonso will start on an even footing and we will see who is faster in a Ferrari

  • Comment number 11.

    At 3:58pm on 30 Sep 2009, Blasos wrote:
    Schumacher crushed Massa, yet Alonso went toe-to-toe with Schumacher.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Lewis demolished Alonso and Massa, therefore it goes without saying that Lewis is the best among the lot.

  • Comment number 12.

    8. At 3:58pm on 30 Sep 2009, Blasos wrote:
    We have already seen it, he is a double world champion!!!!
    Schumacher crushed Massa, yet Alonso went toe-to-toe with Schumacher and won. I am not saying Alonso is better than Schumacher, but he is certainly better than Massa.

    This is a difficult one. Has mass changed since then? Was he merely the second driver to Schumacher? Massa and Alonso will be given equal opportunity next year. If will be far closer than you think, if massa fully recovers that is.

  • Comment number 13.

    If Raikkonen can get back on top form it will be very difficult for Hamilton to beat him in the same car. He is the quickest man on the grid, if not the best, and as long as he is motivated he will challenge both Alonso and Hamilton. Last time he was at his best, he beat Hamilton over the course of a season and Hamilton was driving better then than he did last season. I would say it was shaping up to be an exciting season in 2010 but I can't see the FIA's rule changes, particularly the refuelling ban allowing for that.

    Massa will not be a challenger next season, he isn't good enough to be a world champion and will simply play second fiddle to Alonso.

  • Comment number 14.

    Lets Hope Kimi does not join McClaren as he is a PR nightmare that is the reason why Ferrari kicked him out with 1 year left on his contract!!!

    Kimi is Moody and Mumbles and has NO personality which you have to have to be taken seriously in this sport.

    Kimi gives F1 fans nothing.

  • Comment number 15.

    #11 Lewis demolished Alonso and Massa, therefore it goes without saying that Lewis is the best among the lot.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    I fail to see how Hamilton drawing on points with Alonso in 2007 and beating Massa by a single point on the last lap of the season in 2008 - having won less races - classes as a demolition of either driver.

  • Comment number 16.


    Joe Strummer - I believe post #11 was said in jest with regards to post #8

  • Comment number 17.

    Cant wait for next season now!

    I just hope Mclaren and Ferrari are at the top from the start and hope Brawn dont go backwards. Not convinced about Raikkonen still dont think his heart is in it however maybe Ferrari is not the right team for him, even though he did win the title with them! Alonso is a great driver, it will be interesting to see how he copes alongside Massa who is loved at Ferrari and knows the team etc and already settles. I think Hamilton has grown as a driver in the 2nd part of the season.

    Kubica is good but not in the Alonso and Hamilton league, not even sure Massa is as good as them to be honest, those 2 seem to have more of a natural all round ability however Massa deserves good things to happen to him especially after this year.

    All good for F1 and the fans.

    On another note does anyone think banning re-fueling is a bad idea?

  • Comment number 18.

    Looks like next year will be quite the exciting season. I can hardly wait to see the driver competiveness on the track and the driver animosity to make it's way to the press.

  • Comment number 19.

    The last comment in the blog is in my view rather controversial. Is Button really below Raikkonen in the pecking order of drivers, and is Raikkonen really on a par with Alonso and Hamilton? I know which I would want in my team, and it's not the one who seems more interested in rallying. Equally, I'm not so sure Button's ahead of Vettel or Kubica in the estimation of the paddock.

  • Comment number 20.

    dear lord, a blog about the prospect of great driving, and there's already cussing...

  • Comment number 21.

    Alonso will be good at Ferrari because he will mould the team around himself. Already you can see that the relationship of Ferrari with Massa is tainted with pity; they like him and want him to succeed but they smell that he can't pull it off. No such problems with Alonso. I am looking forward to having so many more cars on the grid. It will be a great year

  • Comment number 22.

    Hamilton/Raikkonen at McLaren.Alonso/Massa at Ferrari.Button/Rosberg at Brawn.Vettel/Webber at Red Bull.Kubica at Renault.Possibly the most exciting driver line up ever to grace the F1 paddock next season & with no in season testing their will different guys at the front each race.

    Bring it on!!

  • Comment number 23.

    I am glad they are banning re-fueling. I would ban tyre changes as well. And increase the length of races to a minimum of 2 hours. Only bodywork as aerodynamic aids would be great as well as a fuel limit per car per race to encourage fuel-efficiency. Time to reduce the rules and allow the engineers to work their magic.

  • Comment number 24.

    5-way battle for 2010, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Alonso, Kubica and Vettel. Simple.

  • Comment number 25.

    Provided Ferrari and McLaren turn up with similarly competitive cars next year, it's gonna be awesome.

  • Comment number 26.

    Can't wait to see how next season goes. As good as this one has been the prospect of Lewis and Kimi in McLarens and Alonso and Massa in Ferraris is brilliant.

    I don't think there is much to choose between Kimi, Lewis and Alonso, they've all proved themselves to be exceptional drivers. But Massa still has something to prove so is perhaps the most dangerous of the lot.

    Alonso v Hamilton!!! Can't wait.

    Still for the remainder of this season..........COME ON RUBENS!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Good to see FA over at Ferrari, FA v LH, that'll be a good season long fight. KR over to McLaren, if wouldn't surprise me if he'll be off rallying, good driver yes, but F1 being so technical, the team really needs a technically sound driver to help develop the car over the season & I just don't this KR wanted to put the effort in, hence his elbow out from Ferrari. Good luck whereever he ends up. Bring on 2010 !

  • Comment number 28.

    #21 Do you think Alonso is bigger than Ferrari?? Ferrari do it there way and always have done. The Question is which Ferrari Driver will be no.1 - I don't think Alonso will be as Massa is part of the family at Ferrari. If Ferrari get the car right then Alonso does have the skill to be with the leaders. Next season will again be about who gets the car right for the first 5/6 races and not about who is the best driver!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Looking forward again McLaren Ferrari battle, lets just close this season give petty Button his medal.

    Bit of the topic but is this the first time when sponsors buy driver out from a team?

  • Comment number 30.

    @ dcp1979 #14 ...." Kimi is Moody and Mumbles and has NO personality which you have to have to be taken seriously in this sport.

    Kimi gives F1 fans nothing."

    Really? I always thought ability was a more important factor to being taken seriously as a driver in F1. To be honest I'd rather Kimi's no bs mumblings than Hamilton's shiny smug corporate soundbites anyday.

    As for him giving F1 fans nothing, maybe you should watch the highlights of the 2005 Japanese GP ,available elsewhere on this site, as just one example of what he can give F1 fans.

    If Kimi returns to Mclaren and gets his mojo back then we're in for a real treat.

    Can't wait.

  • Comment number 31.

    I really enjoy reading your blogs Andrew, you are doing an awesome job with the classic F1 series and have definately got me looking forward to next year.

    It will be great to see Ferrari and Mclaren regain their dominance of the sport next year although it is quite funny seeing them fighting in the midfield. I hope their cars are good enough to allow their drivers to show exactly how good they really are. I do hope Brawn and Red Bull maintain competitive cars for next season especially if Rosberg is joining Brawn, he really deserves the chance to drive a frontrunning car.

  • Comment number 32.

    Always follow the money in F1, if Alonso is earning more than Massa, then he is no 1. If Lewis is earning more than Kimi and so on. The drivers mentioned are all capable, Lewis, Kimi and Fernando have won championships and Massa, Vettel have come close, plus Button may go up a gear once he wins. What they all need and want is the best car, so whoever produces that will win as always! Maybe it will be Force India?

  • Comment number 33.

    Hamilton v Kimi - should be interesting if Kimi is awake.

  • Comment number 34.

    Kimi is always accompanied by bad luck. In his final year with Mclaren, the car was pathetic. Like Hakinen he is a flat out driver and the fastest on the grid. With Kimi moving back to Mclaren things i just hope that things would work out for him. Alonso is better than Massa any day. With a car that he has this season he is doing a fantastic job. During his tenure at Mclaren he brought out some fine tuning changes to his car which were then secretly copied by hamilton's team. He is intelligent and talented and a complete driver who knows the car's limitation and knows how to exploit it.
    On paper i would say that with Kimi moving to Mclaren, that team will beat any other team hands down - provided kimi's luck improves.

  • Comment number 35.

    "I think Ferrari has made the biggest mistake by taking Alonso. He is not as good as everybody talks, and I hope Massa will show how bad is Alonso"

    Complete and utter garbage, Alonso is clearly the most talented driver out there... Consistency is his greatest weapon, he never seems to fail... can't wait to see him at ferarri, hopefully bagging the championship!

  • Comment number 36.

    What a shame Ferrari couldn't get Renault to release Alonso after Massa's accident. Alonso v Kimi would have been good and it would have saved us the embarrassment of having to watch Badoer and Fisi struggling around tracks.

  • Comment number 37.

    oh dear !
    alonsita the blameless paired up with ferrari the untouchables.
    anyone else expecting even dodgier judgements from the fia next season.

  • Comment number 38.

    I agree with #4. Alonso seems to have an aspect to his personality like Prost, Schumacher, Piquet and so many others who felt they had to be the team's number one driver.

    Still, with Alonso, Massa, Raikkonen and Hamilton filling the two biggest teams, and with other drivers like Kubica, Vettel, Webber and Button in the field, I agree about this being a golden age. There are so many drivers on the grid who, on their day, can go out and dominate a race weekend, more than there have been for a long long time. I can't wait for next year.

  • Comment number 39.

    @ oldloads

    Force India winning it would be truly brilliant.

    =============

    Everyone seems to have a lot of love for Rosberg on here. I've always thought he seemed very good in qualifying and pretty average when it came to race time.

    Also bearing in mind Lewis and Kimi are the only 2 drivers to get to grips with KERS, does anyone think there is a chance McLaren would try and run it again next year? I know there is a gentlemens agreement not to use it said to be in place between the teams but this is F1.....

  • Comment number 40.

    If Raikkonen goes to Mclaren next year, I can't wait for KIMI V FERNANDO

    Forget Lewis, Kimi is a much better driver than hamilton on his day.

  • Comment number 41.

    Of course, we need to see what cars Ferrari and Macca serve up ...

  • Comment number 42.

    @ dcp1979 #14 ...." Kimi is Moody and Mumbles and has NO personality which you have to have to be taken seriously in this sport."

    Ever thought that this is great PR work from Raikkonen. I means, no one bothers him, the press leave him alone, his private life is simply just that... his private life. Just brilliant if you ask me.

    Looking forward to next season. Great pairings!

  • Comment number 43.

    i think in Raikonnen Ferrari are loosing a better driver than Felipe.
    Hamilton will win 4/5 more titles between now and the end of his career and alonso will probably gain another 2.

  • Comment number 44.

    So much of this asumes that both Ferrari and McL will produce decent cars for next year. I have more doubts about the former than the latter and suspect a Lewis v Kimi competition as likely as Lewis v Alonso.

    Did anyone predict this season? Might Force India, Toyota and Sauber come to the fore? Then, 2010 turns into a battle between Sutil, Trulli and Kubica!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    I just look forward to Alonso and Raikkonen getting their asses kicked.

    Hamilton is the best driver - he made Alonso look so average in his rookie season... and nearly won the world championship then!!

    And don't rule out smoothie Button who will also be in the mix at the top. He's not 15 points clear of the rest for no reason, it's because he's a consistently great driver, cool under pressure and rarely makes the stupid mistakes the others do.

  • Comment number 46.

    Golden Age - my a*se! Whilst F1 still allows tyre changes its is never going to get proper racing (e.g. like Hunt/Lauda days and before...). These days the drivers only seem to "overtake" a fellow driver when he's sat in the pits. F1 is therefore still a joke and will remain so until they get back to overtaking on the track and not pseudo-overtaking via pit stops. Until then it's MotoGP & Superbikes that are where it's at.

  • Comment number 47.

    I have followed F1 for over 30 years and although I believe Alonso is a fantastic driver I don’t think he is as good as many people think. I really think Massa and Alonso will be very close with Massa if recovered possibly edging it. Alonso has won two titles but if we look closer at the two seasons Kimi was faster in 2005 but had reliability problems. In 2006 the Renault had the best reliability and a performance advantage while they where using the illegal Mass damper system. When that was removed Alonso was blown away by Schumacher in a straight fight. Massa is a very good driver, people did not rate because he made many mistakes earlier on in his career and was on average a massive 6 tenths of a second fuel corrected slower than Schumacher in qualifying and forty seconds over a race distance slower than Schumacher while teammates. What we must remember is the current crop of leading driver’s don’t have that sort of pace advantage as was proven by the Massa/ Raikonen partnership over each other. They are very close and there is no one mega fast driver such as a Senna or Schumacher. I predict Massa and Alonso to be very close and it will be interesting to see how they handle it.

    I am also very interested in the Hamilton and Kimi combination. How do you think that will pan out, who will have the upper hand?
    The analysis comparing Hakkinen and Schumacher was very poor. Hakkinen was only ever faster than Schumacher when he had a massiive car advantage i.e 1998. Schumacher was the fasstest driver of his generation and possibly all time. The only driver I have seen as quick as him is Senna.

  • Comment number 48.

    Nothing is as simple as many of these comments make out, at the start of this year we had Jenson, 6 straight wins and then problems because of the way the car braking changed... ever so slightly.

    So remember that the driver alone does not make a team (I know we all know this) which appears to have been forgotten in this thread. Alonso and Massa will go head to head but it will often depend upon how a driver can react to the feel of the ultimate car as it develops and his style adjusts.

    Add in no refuelling and one drivers reactions to a heavy car v. a light car and F1 suddenly becomes fascinating and we won't know the result until they all sit in their cars and the 5 red lights go out...

  • Comment number 49.

    on paper the prospects are mouth watering
    kimi at mclaren a good move for him and the team its no wonder hes not been on it with the sack looming all season
    ferrari have problems fernando will want no1 status rite from the off because the sponsors backing him and massa will want to repay the team and make there faith in him worth while fernando isnt realy a team player its all about him
    brawn will be on it again ross has the know how to make sure jenson and nico will be close enough to pick up the ferrari pieces
    and red bull well since the arrival of adrian newey theyve just got better and better hes the one man who all teams want to make there cars to rite them off would be silly
    and as for the no refueling that can only make for more overtaking and make drivers work harder as for the setups they choose i hope for more rules that make the drivers drive like they use to its good for the sport

  • Comment number 50.

    Another emeotional decision by Ferrari - like giving the dirve for Luca Badoer - in keeping Massa while getting rid of (one of the) best driver on the grid. Apparently Massa "deserves" his place because he got injured this season. Lets see how well this decision serves Ferrari.

    In Kimi Ferrari let go a world champion, double vice-champion (very unlucky to have lost those due to engine failures), a driver who last season made a record number of fastest laps and this year somehow managed to win at Spa (fourth time in five years!) with a car that generally is not competitive. This makes no sporting sense whatsoever. Ayone who thinks Kimi has lost interest or has not been in form for some time needs to consider that the car has been mostly rubbish - hardly 100% his fault.

    14 - dpc1979 - Just because you don't like Kimi's personality, it doesn't mean he has none. Here's a man who races speed boats in a gorilla suit, wins a professional snow mobile race weeks before F1 season starts (both under the pseydonym James Hunt) and puts in an impressive performance in his first ever World Rally race. And I for one think it's superb how Kimi stays calm whether he wins or loses - no dancing and crying as he wins, and no moaning and blaming when he loses (or when car breaks etc.). Some of us like motorsports, others prefer Pussycat Dolls...

  • Comment number 51.

    will miss kimi in the red car. i hate to say it but he never did fit into the team. i dont see why they should be removing him from the team when he even is a consistent racer. look at his win in spa with a car that doesnt work. overall i think kimi is the best driver in f1 and seeing him in a mclaren which has not been confirmed will look alot better

  • Comment number 52.

    Give Alonso the opportunity to drive a competitive car like the one he had in Mclaren, and we´ll see who is the best driver on the track.
    ........and of course, in the right environment.
    Hamilton and Alonso are the most competitive drivers right now.
    I can´t wait for next season.
    Alonso, show us what you really are made of........go on making history.!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    I think people are too dismissive of Kimi. He has as much if not more raw talent than either Alonso or Hamilton and the idea that he's lazy or unmotivated is a total lie based on little more than the way he comes across in interviews and the fact that he hasn't has a competitive car recently. The McLaren mechanics love him because he is one of the best drivers when it comes to developing a car by giving good driver feedback. This decision by Ferrari is more about sponsors and money than it is about having the best drivers. Theres a good chance that they are going to look very silly in 2010 if McLaren do better. For me, Lewis and Kimi is a +much+ stronger lineup than Massa and Alonso, both in terms of ability and in terms of how well theyre likely to work together as a team.

  • Comment number 54.

    Andrew you consistently under rate felipe massa, to the point of it being annoying. This is a guy who was a whisker a way from a world championship last year, and who would have won it comfortably if it was not for a botched pitstop in singapore and engine failures in melbourne and Hungary. He was leading the best of the non brawn and redbulls until his injury this year. He has consistently proved over the past two seasons that he is a match for anybody in f1, and even non of the current drivers would now dispute that, so why have you?
    If that was not bad enough you have Jenson Button as the best of the rest behind Lewis, Fernando, and Kimi. So where does this leave Massa? Button has not done it consistently for 2-3 seasons like Massa has yet is still a better driver?
    Put money on Massa to beat Alonso next season, the guy is seriously quick!

  • Comment number 55.

    ppl752

    Couldn't agree more re Kimi and his apparent lack of personality. I for one love his interviews, all them journalists desperately trying to get a quote out of him and failing miserably, always makes me laugh.




  • Comment number 56.

    @28 Where do you get that from? Jean Todt took a hopelessly failing Ferrari team and rebuilt it around Schumacher. It may not be my cup of tea but the ruthlessness of Todt in sacrificing everything to Schumacher, knowing him to be utterly ruthless himself, was a very successful strategy. It remains to be seen what will develop with Alonso but I very much doubt that Massa will come out on top, he just pretends to be ruthless. It ain't enough.

  • Comment number 57.

    Andrew Benson, your comments show a lack of knowledge as you constantly repeat that Alonso beat Schumacher in a straight fight? Were they in the same car? No they weren’t and after the ILLEGAL Renault Mass damper system was removed there was a straight fight and Alonso was blown away by Schumacher only reliability allowed Alonso to win the title. Secondly you say Hakkinen was quicker than Schumcher? How exactly have you worked that out? He only ever out qualified Schumacher when he had a massive car advantage. Schumacher was by far the quickest driver of his generation.

    I also agree with an earlier comment that you always put Massa down. Massa was better than Hamilton last year despite having a slightly inferior car. The reliability and problems with team work cost him the title. I predict he may beat Alonso next year. Just because Massa was blown away by Schumacher does not mean Alonso will do the same as has been proven by the Raikonen/ Massa partnership!

  • Comment number 58.

    Herald a golden age???? I don't think so. Only a BBC write who just happens to have vested interest in talking up F1 could actually write that about F1 at the moment.

    It doesn't matter how good the drivers are as while we have sanitised street circuits appearing all over the place and more and more daft rules such as the banning of refuelling (Singapore was dull but imagine it with no fuel strategies - insomniacs everywhere here is your cure!!!), endurance engines etc. etc. there is no chance of us seeing any actual 'racing'

    Get back to proper circuits in proper countries and ban diffusers at the same time applying a maximum downforce rule and you may once again have a golden age.... until then dream on!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 59.

    If the cars prove to be more or less equally competitive over time then we are indeed entering a Golden Age of Formula 1.

    Not since Mansell,Piquet,Prost,Senna have I been so excited by the driver line-ups of Alonso,Raikkonen,Hamilton,Vettel,Kubica(Rosberg,Button).
    Without re-fuelling,an overtaking strategy now removed for next season, the driving will certainly sort out the men from the boys.

    With the notable exception of Hakkinen, Schumacher just didn't have the same calibre of opposition that exist today, and more of them.

    His 5 at Ferrari will probably never be overhauled, but I will say this.
    Quid pro quo if Alonso manages to pull a hat-trick of Championships with the Prancing Horse {say over the next 5years}, and with the level of talent that is deliciously served, then I have no doubt in my mind that he will be the greatest driver...EVER.
    You're 3 years in the wilderness are over my boy - now it's time to SHINE.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    I am looking forward for an exciting 2010 season which will bring alonso fans a lot of joy cause he will be given the opportunity to humble all the anti alonsista pro hamilton fans. Alonso wants to revenge Ron Dennis and Lewis Hamilton for the unfair and humiliating treatment received by the english firm. It´s not a secret that the woking fabric treated alonso in a very bad manner . The english press asumed alonso had blackmailed his own team without proof and insulted him to support his own driver. In hungary Ron Dennis was very unfair to alonso and in the end of the season. I dont think a team has ever treated a double world champion as bad as Mc Laren did to alonso and that speaks volumes about the british fair play. We´ll see next season in a ferrari how good hamilton is.

  • Comment number 62.

    How can it be the golden age? Whats the difference between now and 2003? If we compare the six best driver of each year..

    2009
    Vettel
    Hamilton
    Alonso
    Massa
    Button
    Kimi

    2003
    Schumacher
    Montoya
    Raikonen
    Alonso
    Button
    Rubens

    Clearly there is more talent in 2003. The difference was one driver was far better than the others. If we take him away it is more or less the same level of talent as 2009.

  • Comment number 63.

    Kimi coming back home to Mcclaren along with Lewis will be mouthwatering, and i think will prove to be a better combination than Alonso and Massa at Ferrari. Mcclaren, Ferrari, Brawn, Red bull all fighting for the constructors and drivers titles will be fasinating to watch

  • Comment number 64.

    I am surprised Andrew does not rate Massa among the top drivers and he also implies Button to be a better driver than Massa in his article. I think this is unfair. Also with regards to post #50 by ppl:

    "Another emeotional decision by Ferrari - like giving the dirve for Luca Badoer - in keeping Massa while getting rid of (one of the) best driver on the grid. Apparently Massa "deserves" his place because he got injured this season. Lets see how well this decision serves Ferrari."

    He is not being given the seat because he got injured and because Ferrari feel obligated to him (although they no doubt do feel that way), he is being given the seat because he has consistently outperformed Raikkonen in qualifying and races since Raikkonen's championship year, and indeed even including Raikkonen's championship year Massa has been the better Ferrari driver. Look up the statistics for points, wins, poles, qualifying head-to-head etc. from Australia 2007 to Hungary 2009 (when Massa got injured). Massa is ahead in everything except fastest laps. Objectively speaking he has been the better driver by a reasonable margin, he just hasn't had the success in terms of a world championship that Kimi has.

    I remember 2007 when we had Alonso and Hamilton at McLaren and Massa and Raikkonen at Ferrari. We had the best 4 drivers in F1 in the best four seats, and the result was a four-way battle for the title for most of the year. I hope to see something similar next year, with Kimi gback at McLaren to partner Lewis, and if Massa is suffering no long-term issues coming out of his injury, then I think he could well push Alonso close. It could be tough at first though, just like with Webber who needed a few races to get back on Vettel's pace at the start of this year.

    I also agree 2006 is no barometer for what will happen next year. Massa was #2 to Schumacher, the car was designed around Michael. Next year, Massa and Alonso will recieve equal treatment and equal priority within the team. All being well with Felipe, we should see a much closer contest than many people think.

  • Comment number 65.

    God Alonso going to Ferrari was the news i was dreading, i hope Massa absolutely stuffs him next season and he goes crying to renault to take him back(again) anf Ferrari get a real driver to partner Raikkonen. I am sad to see kimi go, his performance this second half of the season has been fantastic in a rubbish car and proves he is miles better than Alonso in pace and racing ability.

  • Comment number 66.

    sensationaljohn

    Alonso had a british race engineer last time i checked, so i'd suggest you possibly seem more concerned about britsh hatred of Alonso than the man himself.

    Also, in F1 terms Ron Dennis is gone so probably not high on Alonsos list of priorities!

  • Comment number 67.

    REF 61
    Amen to you sir.
    What was the point in (money from Banco Santander)Ron Dennis bringing a Double-World Champion to his team (loads of money from Banco Santander)if all along he (megaloads of money from Banco Santander) wanted to build it around Hamilton in the first(just wanted the megabucks from Banco de Santander) place?
    Is it to do with the fact that he was getting the motherload of money from Banco de Santander and Alonso is, er, Spanish?

    Sometimes the truth deafens British ears...

  • Comment number 68.

    People seem to equate being the fastest as being the best.
    So - using such astoundingly presumptuous logic...
    ...Guess who was the fastest driver in Belgium this year?

    Luca Badoer.

  • Comment number 69.

    "Golden age" ROTFLMAO!

    I hope the 2010 Ferrari is another dud and Renault come back on form

  • Comment number 70.

    #58 - Banning refuelling is NOT a daft idea. It's the major reason for the mind-numbing racing we have seen all too often through recent years. It contributed to Schumacher's dominance by forcing everyone into a series of sprints instead of their having to choose between short stints on soft tyres or long stints on hard. I don't think MS would have had things his own way quite so often if he'd had to deal with non-stopping hard tyre runners as well as sprinters. It will be interesting to see how things pan out. Since it's a new experience for the drivers, we may find some less familiar names come to the fore...
    Would it be possible for the Beeb to stop broadcasting the drivers' press conferences? If I wasn't forced to hear Raikkonen's voice, I could just appreciate his driving. And, historically, wouldn't Nigel Mansell have been even more popular if we hadn't heard him whingeing so much? Leave the driver quotes for the printed reports!

  • Comment number 71.

    Face the facts people stop saying it was a anti Alonso or even anti Spanish nonsense he through his toys out the pram.

  • Comment number 72.

    Folk here assume and state some tripe. LH is the best driver in the world, period. He can drive in the day, at night, in the dry, in the wet. I hope it pours next year, and we'll see massa and FA slide off in the red cars. Also, how come so many folk assume a fight between Mclaren and the rest. This is stupidity and arrogance of the red fans we should expect. They are nowhere at the mo, and they have so much catching up to do against about 5/6 teams, before they will get close to a victory. I reckon Renault will be quicker than fezza next year, and FA will rue this move. So will Massa, when FA throws his toys outta tha pram!

  • Comment number 73.

    Here we go again! Why does nearly every debate somehow get around to LH being given preference over Alonso at McLaren? But, might as well join the fray!
    Here are a couple of quotes that might be of interest.
    From an interview with Flavio Briatore (a very big Alonso fan):
    Briatore is convinced Alonso would not have quit Renault if he had been aware he would receive the same treatment as a rookie.
    "If, before signing the contract, they told Fernando, 'Come with us, but you won't have any sort of advantage', he wouldn't have gone," Briatore told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
    "If you hire a world champion, then you must give him the number one status."
    --------
    From an interview with Alonso himself:
    “I'm sure there is going to be equality," he said.
    "I think in the end the two cars will be the same. They are going to give us both the same opportunities."
    the Spaniard is insistent any bad feeling will have little effect on his or the car's performance.
    "One thing is how they feel, what they say about me, but what they do on the track is a different thing, and usually they have had two cars that are exactly same, capable of fighting for victory," he said.
    "And that's what I think will happen in Brazil, so everything will be up to me.”
    ---------
    This was addressed in a previous post:
    Alonso: Not Loved But Not Cheated On Either
    by Maverick (U8559356) 08 October 2007

    The comments to that post showed then, as now, that the Alonso fanatics/ McLaren/Hamilton haters seem confused as to whether they wanted simple equality or that preference be given to Alonso.

    In my opinion it is clear that Alonso’s stint at McLaren was doomed from the start. He went there expecting, as a double champion, to be given something like the support Schumacher got at Ferrrari. This did not happen. Rightly or wrongly Hamilton could not see why he should tone down his performance when he reckoned he could take on and beat the No 1. Ron Dennis and the team handled the situation very badly, no doubt carried away with the rookie’s unexpected success and the surrounding media frenzy.
    Subsequently both drivers acted somewhat childishly but hey, two young guys, in their twenties, with a hunger to win?

    For the record I reckon both Hamilton and Alonso are great drivers and am looking forward to seeing how next season pans out. Let’s hope the cars don’t disappoint and Kimi, whichever team he is in, takes an interest in contesting every race!

  • Comment number 74.

    The only thing Alonso should have thrown out is Ron Dennis. Out of the cockpit of his car.at 200mph...

  • Comment number 75.

    Here we go again! Why does nearly every debate somehow get around to LH being given preference over Alonso at McLaren? But, might as well join the fray!

    oops! posted to wrong forum, Sorry chaps

  • Comment number 76.

    Carlonso is a bit bitter. Don't worry son, all the moaning, ala Alonso style will never change this stat: LH beat FA in the same car, as a rookie. That is the only fact you need to remember mate! Alonso is a loser, loser, loser. Geddit?

  • Comment number 77.

    If Rosberg did end up at Brawn GP, I would say that is Jenson Button's biggest proving point because - if Rosberg out-performs him - he's going to look like a very lucky champion (assuming that he wins the title, of course). Rosberg is a good driver, but he's probably not world champion material, so Button would have to beat him in the same car.

  • Comment number 78.

    REF 76

    "LH beat FA in the same car, as a rookie. That is the only fact you need to remember mate! Alonso is a loser, loser, loser. Geddit?"

    ...and you're a winner, right?

  • Comment number 79.

    I would like to have seen Alonso with Raikkonen as while Massa might have showed promise,now it's a gamble

  • Comment number 80.

    Massa won't be a player next season - Alonso will overshadow him. Hopefully a move to McLaren would reinvigorate Raikkonen but I think as a pairing of Rosberg-Hamilton would be better for the team, Lewis needs a quick driver but not a rival.

  • Comment number 81.

    #67 - Absolutely agree with you on that one!!!

    Without trying to sound over-dramatic, this is my F1 dream come true; Fernando Alonso at Ferrari. I am a huge fan of this sport and have been for 20 years, so I've seen the great rivalries, the epic races and championship battles, but it has been a long time since I've been truly excited by the prospect of a championship season, that is until today. Andrew, I understand why you have called it a golden age in F1 simply because we have (with the obvious exception of Schumacher) the two best drivers of this century in two of the most iconic and successful teams in motorsport history, fighting out with each other for the 2010 WDC and WCC.

    So that's Alonso and Hamilton sorted.

    Then there's Kimi, possibly back at his old hunting ground without the influence of Ron Dennis up against Lewis, I mean, you'd have to be pretty uninspired not to be excited by that.

    And of course, Massa, a driver I admire and like, up against the best peddler in F1.

    How could anyone not be chomping at the bit???

    Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari...........finally, he will be able to prove without doubt that he is a true champion, and love him or loathe him, no-one can deny that this is Alonso's real chance to cement himself in history as one of the greatest ever Formula One Drivers.

    Melodramatic I know, but God I'm excited!

  • Comment number 82.

    "Carlonso is a bit bitter. Don't worry son, all the moaning, ala Alonso style will never change this stat: LH beat FA in the same car, as a rookie. That is the only fact you need to remember mate! Alonso is a loser, loser, loser. Geddit?"

    LH was given preferential treatment as the protected boy of Ron Dennis. Only the english press denies that. If alonso is a loser then tell me why he´s a double world champion and why he ended level on points to Lewis Hamilton in 2007? I think you watch a lot of science fiction movies.

    Lewis Hamilton is a talented driver but he´s not the best. Alonso would never win a championship in the last lap and throw another championship away with a 17 points lead. Alonso in fact won with a renault against the best driver ever.

    Any person with a bit of objectiviness would see that Alonso was never given a preferential treatment because the system in Mc Laren has always been favoritism towards the english driver . It has happened to kovalainen . He´s obviously an inferior driver than Hamilton . But where was hamilton to demand " equal treatment " with KOvalainen? Why Mc Laren treated Montoya like " ..ap " Why RD decided to base on Lewis rather than punish him for the issue in Hungary? And why was alonso penalised with 5 grid positions when that would have meant he´s 2007 wdc.

  • Comment number 83.

    @79 - Alonso and Raikkonen would have been incredible. And it could have potentially worked, Raikkonen would have just done his thing and wouldn't have been at all bothered about Alonso being told he is number one driver. Raikkonen would have let the racing decide that. Would have been brilliant to see them competing against each other, two very different characters. Shame it didn't happen.

    @80 - Is that not what they've tried with pairing him with Kovaleinen? I think McLaren should do what they do best; get two good drivers and give them both as much support as possible and let the best man win. It's what they always tried to do until the Hamilton/Alonso pairing went just a little bit wrong.

  • Comment number 84.

    Massa is nothing on Alonso.

  • Comment number 85.

    " LH was given preferential treatment as the protected boy of Ron Dennis. Only the english press denies that."

    There you go usual excuses what nonsense Ron isnt on the track you know driving with Lewis.

  • Comment number 86.

    Interesting look for next season. From Ferrari starting development early it could be a bit like Brawn when Honda started development early and they could dominate at the start. Looks unlikely though since there are not that many major changes from this year.

    Also interesting to note Schumacher's current envolvement in F1. Will he pipe up for Massa next year as he has recently? It's no secret he's not exactly best friends with Raikkonen and I wouldn't exactly say he's best friends with Alonso either. Also, if Schumacher had taken Badoer/Fisci's seat this year, would Ferrari have stopped development on the car or not? I really think they would have continued the updates, which is funny considering Raikkonen who is still driving the hell out of the car at present.


    For next year, I'd hedge my bets on how well the driver's mindset is, because that's where it'll count.

    Raikkonen if he's on form and has no badluck/silly McLaren decisions
    Button if he has another dominant car that is suited to him and doesn't have badluck. His smooth driving style suits the no-refuling tyre managment approach
    Hamilton if he doesn't make any silly mistakes
    Vettel/Webber if they have great luck and a great car with no silly mistakes
    Alonso if all the rest are not consistent and he 'does a Prost'

  • Comment number 87.

    74 Carlonso

    "The only thing Alonso should have thrown out is Ron Dennis. Out of the cockpit of his car.at 200mph..."

    He should be travelling at 210mph - just to make sure.

    It's no coincident Ron Dennis is out of the Formula 1 scene.
    Ron Dennis has been at loggerheads with Mosely (therefore with Bernie) for ages.These guys were DESPERATE to show him the F1 door.
    I'll never forget when Brundle asked Bernie in the pit straight in the deciding race in Brazil who he wanted to win the 2007 championship, for which Bernie replied to Brundle's surprise "Give it to Alonso."
    I do believe Alonso was treated terribly at Maclaren, and that the team favoured Hamilton all along.

    The LH v FA thing will never go away, which is good, as it adds more drama and tension to proceedings, but I really shudder when I have to read childish idiotic blogs.

    Villains are Angels, Geddit?


  • Comment number 88.

    A look at the standings tells us that this year's championship has been about constructors Brawn and Red Bull; and drivers Button, Barrichello, Vettel, and Webber. Everyone else is behind by some distance.

    It bears noting that Raikkonen is 5th and has helped Ferrari to 3rd constructors spot mostly by himself. He is ahead of both Hamilton and Alonso on points.

    So the picture next year is far more complicated than McLaren and Ferrari, or Hamilton and Alonso. For these teams and drivers to ascend to their annointed rivalry and dominance of F1, they would have to surpass the constructors and drivers who beat them on the tracks this year: Red Bull and Brawn.

    The matchup has a certain romance to it, but it bears only passing resemblance to what the tracks have witnessed this year. In fact, given Raikkonen's recent vein of form, I could see him being quite competitive with his replacement (Alonso), assuming he gets a decent ride for next year. After all, he's 14 points superior this year, and the Ferrari car has not been the best.

    Last thought: considering the seriousness of Massa's injuries, it strikes me as risky to dump the proven performer and retain the injured driver. That choice could backfire. Drivers who've moved once on the musical chairs this winter will not likely move again if Ferrari is stuck with Massa unable to drive. They could be back in this underwhelming Fisichella/Badoer-type of grasping at straws again.

  • Comment number 89.

    #88 - I see your point but please remember that the Renault is probably the third worst car on the grid at the moment, so we can't judge Alonso on his results because the car just isn't quick enough to showcase his talent. That's why the podium in Singapore was an incredible achievement and overlooked by some.

  • Comment number 90.

    Yeah it should make for a fascinating contest. I think when people say "Alonso spat the dummy cause Lewis was faster than him" they are forgetting some things.

    When Alonso signed for McLaren, it was 2005. That meant Montoya was going to be his team-mate. As Alonso had raced Montoya for several years, he probably felt he could beat the Colombian - he was a known quantity. Thus he probably didn't feel the need to have a contract that stipulated he was the number one driver.

    That changed when Juan decided he had enough and quit. Now Alonso was faced with the prospect of having an unknown (to Alonso in terms of he never raced against him before, of course everyone was aware of WHO Hamilton was) partnering him. This would have put him less at ease. He would have also underestimated (a) Lewis's raw ability (b) the fact Lewis would get SO much mileage before making his debut

    Secondly, there was the OTT hype surrounding Hamilton as he made his F1 debut (fuelled by the British media). If I was an F1 driver, damn right I would have been p***ed off if I arrived at a team as a 2 time champion, only for everybody to get obsessed with some new guy! This would have made him even more uncomfortable. It was not helped by Lewis at Monaco when he made his childish outburst "I have #2 on the car, so I guess i'm the #2 driver". That would have REALLY hacked me off!

    Despite all the tension, Alonso still managed to put in a fight for the championship.

    Never mind Alonso being able to cope with Massa, what would be just as interesting to see is if Lewis can handle a fired up Kimi! I'd say Kimi is a little hacked off Ferrari dropped him a year early so he'd be out to prove a point in my opinion. I wonder how Lewis's ego will cope with that? (Probably as well as Fernando coped with Lewis in actual fact...)

    Anyway, i've gone off track. In my opinion, I don't think Fernando will have much of a problem having Felipe as a team-mate. Fernando SHOULD have learned from the McLaren experience not to under-estimate his teammate. Given they have competed against each other for a much longer period, I don't see the level of acrimony we witnessed at McLaren in 2007.

    If McLaren and Ferrari build good cars next year, and Brawn and Red Bull keep up their pace from this year, we are set for a MEGA 2010 imo.

  • Comment number 91.

    #88

    Yes Kimi was in a bad car this year... what about the monstrosity of a Renault Fernando has had to deal with???

  • Comment number 92.

    I hope next season proves to be an all-time classic washing from memory the dull interlude of 2009 where mediocrity has prevailed. All the ingredients seem to be in place.

    I foresee civil war at Ferrari when Alonso, surprised by Massa's speed, tries to blackmail the team! Massive hissy fits and tantrums from Alonso. It could get nasty, really nasty!!

    Lewis will have his hands full with a resurgent Kimi. They will drive each other on to superlative new levels. Hamilton has never lost to a team-mate in any formulae - and he's in no mood to start now!!

    1. Ham
    2. Kimi
    3. Massa
    4. Alonso

  • Comment number 93.

    REF 81 Nadaliator

    Are you agreeing with me that Ron Dennis only brought in Alonso for the Banco de Santander sponsorship or more to my REF 59 that Alonso could make history?

    Either way, will you marry me?

  • Comment number 94.

    Definitely the golden age of F1 with 19 race season in 2010, I cant wait. But who will be the winner this year. Jenson or Rubens?

  • Comment number 95.

    REF 90
    I was under the impression that Alonso was going to team up with Pedro de la Rosa when he signed for Maclaren.
    Good points throughout...

  • Comment number 96.

    Alonso will not have a Golden Age for a number of reasons:

    1. No Ross Brawn and Jean Todt to organize things and provide impeccable strategy.

    2. Neither the FIA nor the public will allow team "orders". Plus Massa has proven he can live with 3 former world champions and is very quick and improving year by year.

    3. Alonso has shown that he is only able to dominate weak number 2s. Trulli had the measure of him in 2004 before the Italian fell out with Fernando's manager/Renault boss Briatore at the French GP...and Hamilton, a rookie, pressured him into numerous errors (Bahrain, Spain and Canada) before the Spy-gate fallout effected his standing at McLaren. Then there was Japan where he crashed out while Hamilton won with the title still on the line.

    4. Alonso continues to prove fallable: Within the last month he drove into the back of Sutil at la Source, failed to get away well inspite of KERS at Monza and then was out-gunned by Glock on lap 1 at Singapore. His first podium came only after Webber, Rosberg and Vettle took penalties over the tiniest of errors.

    5. Yes he has two championships but the first once came courtesy of Mercedes failures as opposed to genuinely out-classing Raikkonen. The second came aided by the use of the 'tuned' mass damper which was later judged illegal.

    6. There are too many very good drivers on the grid, especially Hamilton, Kubica (who Alonso himself rated highly) and, when in the mood, Raikkonen. Once Vettel stops making errors, he too will prove formidable.

    The idea of a Golden Age in this new "control" era of Formula One racing is perposterous.

  • Comment number 97.

    REF 82
    Really good points...

  • Comment number 98.

    alonso is the best pound for pound driver at the moment no doubt about it

  • Comment number 99.

    Ah, under-rated Massa yet again.
    It's fun being his fan and seeing him defy everyone's expectations.
    I hope 2010 is no different.

  • Comment number 100.

    #91:
    "Yes Kimi was in a bad car this year... what about the monstrosity of a Renault Fernando has had to deal with???"

    I wouldn't say it was that bad in comparison to the Ferrari. When you consider that Fisci went from leading a GP with a Force India to being at the back with a Ferrari, I think you can see how hard it is to drive. Okay, so they're completely different car styles in terms of downforce, KERS etc, but still doesn't change the fact that Raikkonen was behind (and then infront) of him at Monza

    #99:
    "Ah, under-rated Massa yet again.
    It's fun being his fan and seeing him defy everyone's expectations.
    I hope 2010 is no different."

    I think everyone is still keeping Massa in mind, it's just hard to say anything for certain without seeing how well he's driving after his accident. It's good that he's done some karting, but we don't know how well he did in the karts, just that he's recovering. Therefore, tough call to say how well he'll do

 

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